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Juneau Robot Jamboree brings autonomous LEGO robots to Centennial Hall
Published: 12/16/2010 21:16:00
Last Saturday, kids gathered at Juneau's Centennial Hall equipped with LEGO robots, but instead of playing, it was all about education.

Rebecca Parks, a STEM Education Specialist with the Juneau Economic Development Council told us about the event: "This is the Juneau Robot Jamboree; it's a Southeast regional FIRST LEGO League competition. So it's a robotics competition for 9 to 14 year olds; it's elementary and middle school students. But it's a lot more than just robotics, the teams come in, they do a project presentation that involves a lot of research and a lot of communication skills going out and presenting in their community. They have an actual teamwork judging session, and they also actually have a design judging session about their robot."

"This is a team sport, just like basketball or swimming. It's open to any body, most of the teams here are affiliated with a school, but some of them are just a group of friends that really wanted to spend more time together working on robots; so they formed their own FIRST LEGO League team. And it's 22 teams, so it's about 200 students; you can have anywhere from 3 to 10 students on a Team." said Parks.

To navigate the course, teams use a combination of programming and sensors to guide their robots.

Tim McKenna of Team Zig Zag explained one of the sensors. "The touch sensor you can tell it to go forward until touch sensor pressed, and then like when touch sensor pressed, turn 90 degrees."

The course is the same worldwide each year, and teams get to choose what tasks they attempt, some are harder than others.

Capri Potter also of Team Zig Zag told us about one of the harder challenges. "The blood cells is hard because your robot has to go up to each blood cell and you have to turn it, you have to teach it using color sensors to recognize the lights and darks, but we're not doing that one because it takes way too long"

Everyone in the team plays a crucial part in the project according to Mason Gallanos of Team Zig Zag. "I did a lot of the building and we would present, and make a presentation, and I did a lot of that too."

By: Mikko Wilson -